Some thoughts/moments/things that made sparks fly in my mind during and post-Loyalty Lab:

1.) When visitors give, they also receive. I am learning people really do like creating and giving to a larger project during events. It makes them feel part of something greater. I’ve been somewhat stuck in this mind set that people want or need a take away item, but I am realizing this does not have to be tangible. It can simply be the mere satisfaction of contributing to a collaborative piece. After really thinking about the events I have experienced thus far at the MAH, it is the collaborative projects that are propelled by a different kind of energy that sustains beyond the time of the event. And naturally, a greater sense of community is established with these particular collaborations.

2.) The before and after experience must be considered. I never really thought about how the who/what/where/when/why/how of the before and after should be factored into the actual museum visitor experience. The mentality of a group of visitors is certainly different if they start their evening at the MAH, followed by dinner downtown, where as another visitor might be across town coming from some kind of work environment, and the MAH experience will be their main source of social interaction for the evening. There are several different scenarios that could be happening before and after this experience at the MAH; what it comes down to is how can we make this experience stand out as the one they were able to connect to people, places and things on a deeper and more engaging level? How can this experience be absorbed in such a way that leaves not only visitors wanting to come back for more events and exhibitions, but also indicate that these experiences were, and continue to be, absorbed by the museum as well?

An idea: Perhaps we can have a visitor installation piece that visitors can add onto each time they visit. Either a box (“MAH Box”) or a cup (“How are you filling your MAH cup?”), or garden pot (“Visitors making MAH grow…” a “visitor garden?”)or something along those lines. Something in which visitors can personalize, be creative with, but also allows the museum to track experiences. Each box/or cup would be numbered, and at the time when a visitor receives one of these, we would get their e-mail, contact info, etc. That way we would not only have their info on file, but also have their specific number documented so the next time they visited, we could easily direct them in case they forgot what their piece looks like. Each event, we would only have certain materials pertaining to that specific event to contribute to the piece; for example, during “Experience Metal” we would have had little metal pieces made available, during 1st Friday in August we would have had more paper cranes, …that way museum staff could take time examining these after events and see who has been taking part, and who is coming back.

3.) Being good at goodbyes. There has always been such an emphasis on the greeter, that first impression, but I agree that some kind of “goodbyer” would be beneficial to the visitor experience as well.

Another idea: There has been interest in a teen volunteer program at the MAH, and I’ve been thinking about different ways young teens can volunteer at the museum in a way that creates opportunities for them during high energy events, like 3rd Fridays. I’ve thought designing some kind of postcard that visitors can walk away with that says the title of event, and where they can find follow up to the event, i.e. “You’ve just experienced August 3rd Friday at the MAH. Follow us here (link to FB), and check out photos from the evening here (link to flickr) and feel free to take a survey of this event here (link to survey). For more on the MAH explore our website here (link to web).” This would all be on one side. The other side is where the teen volunteers would creatively design, live at the event. So, there might be a table set up by the doors with a few teen volunteers with their stack of postcards that they would be crafting on, and as a visitor leaves, the teen could personalize the front of the postcard, and give this to a visitor exiting. This provides a personal experience on both ends, an authentic one-of-a-kind take-away, active engagement for the teen volunteer, as well as information and more knowledge for the visitor to explore after the event is over.